Oklahoma State finished up the 2014 campaign with an overall record of 7-6, there worst finish under head coach Mike Gundy since his 3rd year on the job back in 2007. It came just one year after the Cowboys had gone 10-3 and finished T-2nd in the Big 12 at 7-2. However, it wasn’t a big surprise, as Oklahoma State only returned 8 starters.

It didn’t even look like the Cowboys would get to a bowl, as they were riding a 4-game losing streak (all by 21 or more points) into their season finale at No. 18 Oklahoma. They pulled off the upset, knocking off their in-state rival 38-35 in overtime to finish the year 6-6. Oklahoma State followed it up with a 30-22 upset win over Washington in the Cactus bowl to extend their streak to 9 straight winning seasons.

Prior to last year’s mediocre finish, the Cowboys had gone an impressive 41-11 overall and 26-9 in conference play over the previous 4 seasons. With 16 starters back for 2015 (8 offense, 8 defense), Oklahoma State will look to get back on track in what will be Gundy’s 11th year on the job.

Last Season
Big 12
Record
ATS Record
Over/Under
Points For
Points Against
4-5 (7th)
7-6
6-7
6-6
27.6
31.2
Schedule
Date Opponent
Spread (Est.)
Win Chance
9/3  @ Central Michigan
-21
1
9/12  Central Arkansas
-31
1
9/19  UTSA
-34.5
1
9/26  @ Texas
+2
.47
10/3  Kansas State
-5
.64
10/10  @ West Virginia
+3
.43
10/24  Kansas
-27
1
10/31  @ Texas Tech
-4.5
.63
11/7  TCU
+9
.25
11/14  @ Iowa State
-17.5
1
11/21  Baylor
+8
.26
11/28  Oklahoma
+3.5
.39
Estimated Wins: 8.07
Roster Breakdown

Oklahoma State’s offense was no where near the juggernaut that they had been in previous season. The Cowboys managed just 27.6 ppg and 379 ypg. A far cry from the 39.1 ppg and 449 ypg they put up in 2013. Like most offenses that struggle, Oklahoma State was plagued by inconsistent quarterback play.

Junior J.W. Walsh opened the season as the starter, but would suffer a season-ending injury in the second game of the season against Missouri State. Fellow junior Daxx Garman started the next 8, but was then injured in their loss to Texas. That forced Gundy to take the red-shit off treu freshman Mason Rudolph. While they would love to have that year of eligibility back, Rudolph impressed in his 3 starts against Baylor, Oklahoma and Washington. The Cowboys are hoping that experience pays off, as Rudolph figures to open the season as the starter.

A big positive for Rudolph is that he will have plenty of help coming back at wide receiver. Each of the top 3 pass catchers return in seniors Brandon Shepperd (737 yards, 5 TDs) and David Glidden (598, 2 TDs) and sophomore James Washington (456 yards, 6 TDs). An interesting note to make is that 301 of Shepperd’s 737 yards came in Rudolph’s 3 starts to end the year. Expect much better production from this unit with Rudolph at quarterback.

The Cowboys should also get better production out of their offensive line. While they lose the left side of their line, as left tackle Daniel Koenig and left guard Chris Grisbhy depart, the unit returns 3 starters and will be adding in UAB transfer left tackle Victor Salako, who started 23 games with the Blazers.

The big question mark with the offense is who will emerge at running back. Oklahoma State loses their top 2 backs from last year in Desmond Roland (770 yards, 10 TDs) and Tyreek Hill (534 yards, 1 TD). The expectation is that highly regarded junior college transfer Chris Carson will win the job. Also in the mix are red-shirt freshman Sione Palelei and junior Rennie Childs.

It wasn’t just the offense that took a step back last year, the Cowboys defense went from allowing 21.6 ppg and 385 ypg in 2013, to giving up 31.2 ppg and 432 ypg in 2014. It was the most points allowed by an Oklahoma State defense since Gundy’s first year on the job in 2005. Like the offense, it was a result of inexperience. The Cowboys only had 4 starters back and had to replace 8 of their top 9 tacklers.

This year the defense has a healthy 8 starters returning and 8 of their top 10 tacklers. While just 2 of those starters return up front on the defensive line, they get back two studs in junior defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah (11 sacks, 1st-Team All-Big 12) and senior defensive end Jimmy Bean. The two open spots at defensive tackle will likely be held down by sophomore Vincent Taylor and junior college transfer Motekiai Maile, plus I would expect highly touted true freshman Darrion Daniels gets some snaps.

Oklahoma State does have to replace talented STAR linebacker Josh Furman, but are in good shape to do so with senior middle linebacker Ryan Simmons and junior weak-side linebacker Seth Jacobs both returning. They have plenty of options to replace Furman, with the most likely candidate being another junior college transfer in Jordan Burton.

The secondary also looks to be improved in 2015, as the Cowboys only significant loss is strong safety Larry Stephens, who was losing playing time to freshman Tre Flowers last year. Flowers returns alongside junior safety Jordan Sterns, who led the team with 103 tackles as a sophomore last year. They also get back 3 solid corners in senior Kevin Peterson , junior Ashton Lampkin and sophomore Ramon Richards.

Future Odds
Regular Season Win Total
Big 12 Championship Odds
Playoff Odds
National Championship Odds
7.5
+700
N/A
+9000
Odds Courtesy of 5Dimes
Season Predictions

While I don’t think Oklahoma State is on the same level as the two powers at the top of the Big 12 in TCU and Baylor, I’m confident the Cowboys will be one of the most improved teams in the country this year. They are certainly capable of surprising the same way the Horned Frogs did last year and contending for a conference title.

The schedule certainly sets up well for Oklahoma State, as they have just 4 road games inside the Big 12 and get the top 3 in TCU, Baylor and Oklahoma all at home, where they have gone 49-16 over the last 10 years. The Cowboys also have a cupcake non-conference schedule with Central Michigan, Central Arkansas and UTSA.

I’m going to take a bit of a conservative approach and call for Oklahoma State to go 6-3 inside the conference and 9-3 overall. I have them losing to both TCU and Baylor, while dropping either a road game at Texas or West Virginia. They are certainly capable of going 10-2 and even 11-1. Needless to say I would lean heavily towards the OVER with Oklahoma State’s win total of 7.5.

2015 Projections
Big 12
Big 12 Record
Overall Record
Win Total Prediction
T-3rd
6-3
9-3
OVER 7.5

asa

ASA
ASAWins.com

OVER 7 Wins – We think OSU will be a vastly improved team in 2015. They finished 6-6 in the regular season last year and with this year’s team we see no reason they shouldn’t improve by at least a few games this year. The Cowboys QB play was erratic last year so they pulled the redshirt off highly touted Mason Rudolph and he started the final 3 games. Rudolph played well vs Baylor in a loss and then beat both Oklahoma & Washington (bowl game) to close out the season. We expect him to have a very good year. He has nearly every target back from last year and a solid offensive line to work behind. The Cowboy offense took a big step back in 2014 averaging only 29 PPG after putting up 39 PPG or more the previous 4 seasons. Look for them to put up much better numbers this year. The offense has always carried a defense that has been OK but not great. They do return 8 starters and with the expected emergence on offense, we think the defense will be fine. The OSU stop unit projects 9 upperclassmen starters so the experience is there. The non-conference slate should be an easy 3-0 (Central Michigan, UTSA, and Central Arkansas). The Big 12 slate brings 5 home games and just 4 roadies. We think they get to at least 7 wins and more than likely an 8-4 record pushing this one OVER.

Jeremy Golden

Jeremy Golden
CowboysRideForFree.com

OVER 7.5 Wins – Why Oklahoma State will win more than their projected 7.5 games:

Another year of seasoning for a big chunk of players should equate to more wins for this years Oklahoma State’s team.
Having Mason Rudolph lose his red shirt with 2 games left in the season has given the Cowboys stability at the QB position something of a rarity in the Big 12 this season. I expect the offense to return to past levels of productivity and the defense to be one of the best in the Big 12. I see at least 9 wins for the Pokes this year.

Gerald Tracy

Gerald Tracy
CowboysRideForFree.com

OVER 7.5 Wins – I think the number is set a little low, especially for a team returning a large portion of its starters from the year before. I know a large reason the number is 7.5 is because last year was such a poor year, but the team was injured for a good part of the year causing the line to be weak and OSU to start three quarterbacks, remember this is no Ohio State.

OSU could easily win at least eight wins this year, three fairly simple nonconference games, KU, ISU, UT, TT and KSU. The schedule sets up for OSU very favorable this year, with the three harder teams (BU, TCU and OU) in the last three weeks and teams still trying to find an offensive or defensive identity in the first few weeks. Now the under on the 7.5 could happen, but I don’t think it’s likely, barring any major injuries or surprises.

A lot of us here believe the number would’ve been a little more fair around 8.5 because if the odds want to remember the past, they should remember Gundy won at least eight games for six straight years before the 2014 season.

Kyle Porter

Kyle Porter
PistolsFiringBlog.com

OVER 7.5 Wins – It feels like things would have to go pretty badly for OSU to win fewer than eight games this season. That’s mostly due to a favorable schedule that includes all its tough opponents at home and an incredibly weak nonconference trio of games. My pick for the year is 9-3.

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